We Are Survivors 

This blog is dedicated to the tens of millions of adult survivors of child abuse and neglect who get up every day and try to work and function in a world that seems to not care about us.

Dissociative Disorders - Part 13

The 1990s was a time when the ugliness of those who wanted to protect child molesters really reared its head. Not only was it unbelievable what they were doing, but also that the media believed their ridiculous banter hook, line, and sinker. And who bears the brunt, even to this day, for their brazen and hideous behavior? Adult survivors of child abuse and therapists. Here is a sampling of what went on about 20 years ago.

“A False Memory Syndrome Conference:  Activist Accused and Their Professional Allies Talk About Science, Law and Family Reconciliation,” by Joan C. Golston, MSW, DCSW, Treating Abuse Today, Vol. 5, No. 1, 1994

“Alan Gold, a Canadian barrister who has specialized in defending alleged perpetrators believes abuse is a problem of language and culture…Gold sees it [child sexual abuse] as a “mutated form of Puritanism. It’s no longer if you masturbate you’ll go insane, but if someone else masturbates you, you’ll go insane.” He does accept some limits, noting consent is irrelevant below a certain age, “even though the child may be precocious or whatever.” His advice to civil litigators:  “It’s best if the victim and family sue the therapist, but as you know there are cases where the victim still believes the memories are real.”

“Texas litigator Skip Simpson states, “Put them (the therapists) in front of a federal grand jury, immunize therapists sot they have no Fifth Amendment rights, and we can get to the bottom of this. That’s the Texas way of dealing with things…”It doesn’t matter what kind of law you practice, you can take these cases, put them together and you can win. You can win in every case…I’m telling you, a blow-up doll can handle these cases…The defense gets up, whines and moans about whatever they are going to whine and moan about…and you sit back and wait for the jury to tell you how much money you’ve won…” None of these cases have been tried because there is a sense we have the studs on our side, the McHughs, the Loftuses”… “It’s like shooting fish in a barrel.”…

“Paul McHugh (Johns Hopkins) reports after a few days of ignoring MPD (Multiple Personality Disorder) behavior, it “fades” and patients can begin to address the real issues in their current lives…If pressed, McHugh admits it is at least possible this disappearance of MPD behavior may be a superficial adaptation to the demand characteristics of his behavior…”

“He was presenting his “cure” for DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder – new name for Multiple Personality Disorder). He restricted hospitalized patients to their rooms until they stopped producing alter behavior and started facing their “real” issues.”

Freyd, William (1993). “Divided Memories: Letters to PBS and Frontline”1

April 17, 1995
Re:  Frontline 125 Western Avenue
Boston, MA 02134


Peter Freyd is my brother. Pamela Freyd is both my stepsister and my sister-in-law. Jennifer and Gwendolyn are my nieces.

The False Memory Syndrome Foundation is a fraud designed to deny the reality that Peter and Pam have spent most of their lives trying to escape. There is no such thing as a False Memory Syndrome. It is not, by any normal standard, a Foundation. Neither Pam nor Peter have any significant mental health expertise.

That the False Memory Syndrome Foundation has been able to excite so much media attention has been a great surprise to those of us who would like to admire and respect the objectivity and motives of people in the media… We do not understand why you would “buy” such an obviously flawed story. But buy it you did, based on the severely biased presentation you made of the memory issue that Peter and Pam created to deny their own difficult reality.

For the most part, you presented very credible parents and frequently quite incredible bizarre and exotic, alleged victims and therapists. Balance and objectivity would call for the presentation of more credible alleged victims and more bizarre parents. While you did present some highly regarded therapists as commentators (Dr. Herman, for example), most of the therapists you presented as providers of therapy were clearly not in the main stream. While this selection of examples may make for much more interesting T.V., it most certainly does not make for objectivity and fairness.

I would advance the idea that “Divided Memories” hurt victims, helped abusers, and confused the public. I wonder why you thought these results would be in the public interest that Public Broadcasting is funded to support.


William Freyd

“Backlash Legislation Targeting Psychotherapists,” by Sherry A. Quirk and Anne P. DePrince, The Journal of Psychohistory 22 (3) Winter 1995

“The arguments advanced by backlash groups have tremendous ramifications for all survivors and for the entire process of psychotherapy. Since the FMSF (False Memory Syndrome Foundation) founding in 1992, the group has harnessed media attention and made “false memory syndrome” a familiar term in discussion of memories of abuse, in spite of the fact that no such syndrome exists in any scientific or therapeutic nomenclature.”

“The media has accepted this phenomenon at face value, despite the absence of empirical evidence to support it. Many survivors feel re-victimized by press coverage. False memory theory does not directly take on survivors. Instead, false memory theory targets therapists with allegations of unscientific conduct, faulty techniques, implantation of memories, and unethical behavior. A number of therapists have been sued or threatened with lawsuits, attacked in the media, and accused of destroying families.”

“Despite the lack of scientific evidence for false memory syndrome, the FMSF and Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions have used a definition of the alleged syndrome in literature for a joint December conference entitled, “Memory and Reality:  Reconciliation, December 1994”.  The FMSF and Johns Hopkins conference brochure reads:

“False Memory Syndrome (FMS) is a condition in which a person’s identity and relationships are centered around the memory of a traumatic experience which is objectively false but the person strongly believes it to be true. It has a devastating effect on the victim and typically produces a continuing dependency on the therapeutic program that created the syndrome. FMS proceeds to destroy the psychological well-being of the primary victim, the integrity of the family and the creation of secondary victims falsely accused of vile acts of incest and abuse.” “To date, allegations of the existence of false memory syndrome, such as this, have not been directly challenged by a united response from the professional community… The time for accountability has arrived. If backlash supporters would like this issue to be decided on the basis of evidence and science, then let them achieve the same standard, citing facts instead of anecdotes from the “falsely accused.”


No such united front presented itself, so the same false information from the False Memory Foundation kept circulating and kept being validated by the media because there appeared to be no journalists willing to dig in and deal with the truth.

Again, who paid for this all-out attack by an organization defending child molesters? Adult survivors of child abuse and neglect and the innocent therapists who did their best to support them.

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Dissociative Disorders - Part 12
Cost of Protecting Children


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